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Book Review- Winter Smith Secrets of France by J.S. Strange

Book Review- Winter Smith Secrets of France by J.S. Strange

 Hello Lovelies,

As you may recall, I read Winter Smith: Loindon’s Burning last year. (See my review.) and was thrilled when the author contacted me to review the second book in the series before it release. Let’s get ready for some apocalyptic fun!

Genre:

Apocalyptic/ Zombies

Synopsis: 

A new world order, a city under control, and a new breed of zombie known as The Martyrs living alongside humans. France isn’t safe. It never has been. After fleeing from London, seventeen-year-old Winter Smith and her surviving friends learn that to survive in Paris means trusting those they don’t know. An anti-government, known as The Union, are forming to take on V, a woman who has gained control of the world and has created the dead to establish a new world order. But surviving in Paris is hard, as those who don’t conform to V’s new rules are quickly wiped out. This not-so-typical zombie novel is the second instalment of the Winter Smith series. An action packed young adult horror that will keep you guessing, and wondering what could possibly happen next.

My Take:

As this is the ARC (advanced reader copy), and I understand it is still going through editing, I won’t comment on editing issues as I believe most will be resolved before the book releases. (They were minor, just a few missing words here and there. Nothing major. But based on the quality of London’s Burning, I’m confident they will be resolved.)

What I love about this series is that it’s not about the zombies, but about the people. Zombies are just the backdrop that allows us to see how dark and deep humanity can go when faced with something horrible. 
And Strange takes a new and darker twisted path in this second book. People who we considered villains surprise us in this book, and people we considered the good guys show their true colors. The second book takes a turn bringing in an unexpected element. What if the end of the world was planned from the very beginning? Strange pulls heavily on conspiracy theory lore to create the mess that the second book finds poor Winter and her friends in, and though I am not generally a fan of conspiracy theories, I enjoyed the twists it created in the second book. 

Violet is still my favorite, though I was disappointed that she kind of took a back seat in the second book. I wanted to see more development in her relationship with Zach. There were some crushing losses that I didn’t see coming, but I felt that the author could’ve given more weight to them. Despite the surprise loss, I didn’t cry like I thought I would when one of the characters fell. Which is a shame because the death of the kids in the first book had me in tears and I didn’t have as much time to get attached to them as I did to one character. 

Overall, a good read and I am looking forward to the third book in the series! 

Winter Smith: Secrets of France is available for preorder for $2.99 through August 17th. Grab your pre-order today. 

Until next time, 

Keep Reading!

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Book Review- Tombs: a Chronicle of Latter-day Times of Earth by James Dorr

Book Review Tombs: a Chronicle of Latter-day Times of Earth

Hello Lovelies,

I have really enjoyed introducing you to James Dorr the last few months.

For anyone who missed James Dorr’s Guest posts on the blog, they are as follows. Definitely worth a look before jumping into the review. 
It began innocently enough with a Meet the Author Interview. Followed by the fascinating analysis of what is a Novel in Stories. In March, James regaled us with how the concept of this world developed: It Began with a Map and in May he introduced us to the element that tied all his tales together, the Ghoul-Poet.

I also took a moment to share a reading of one of my favorite stories.

His publisher was also kind enough to give me an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Tombs for a review. So let’s get to it!

Genre:

Novel-in-stories/ Sci-fi/ Dystopian

Synopsis: 

It had been a time when the world needed legends, those years so long past now. Because there was something else legends could offer, or so the Poet believed. He didn’t know quite what—ghouls were not skilled at imagination. Their world was a concrete one, one of stone and flesh. Struggle and survival. Survival predicated on others’ deaths. Far in the future, when our sun grows ever larger, scorching the earth. When seas become poisonous and men are needed to guard the crypts from the scavengers of the dead. A ghoul-poet will share stories of love and loss, death and resurrection. Tombs is a beautifully written examination of the human condition of life, love, and death, through the prism of a dystopian apocalypse.

My take:

Wow, for those who missed my First Thoughts video yesterday, you can watch it here.


After spending the evening trying to organize my thoughts, and still struggling, this is not going to be as clear and concise as I had hoped.  Man, the synopsis is perfectly written, though.  James Dorr does a remarkable job tying together 16 seemingly disparate tales of life, love, death, and the human condition. 
The first few stories were quite shocking, with some rather graphic and questionable content. (The Beautiful Corpse, The Lover of Dead Flesh were titles that might have given me some hints.) but the behavior treated as common, and the reflection of why it was acceptable based on our current society and how it is developing led to some rather disturbing self-reflection.

After addressing more commonly shocking issues (sexuality, female positioning in society, how we care for our dead, and other interesting issues.) the stories take a unique twist, going from primarily told by the people charged with caring for the dead (Those who run the Tombs, telling us how to view Ghouls, New City Dwellers, and The River People.) then we shift our perspectives and get stories and views from these other peoples themselves who view their position in society as natural and appropriate, and the other’s as different/ bad. Just when you think you know what to expect, the next tale twists what you think you know and gives you a new angle and perspective to consider. And when you take that and compare it to our real-world counterparts, it creates a rabbit hole that is easy to leave you caught in a thought-provoking stupor.

For anyone participating in #ReadProud reading challenge (or one similar, focusing on stories about LGBTQ.) There are several stories in this Novel-in-Stories, like Flute and Harp, The Ice Maiden, and The Winged Man that all highlight how Mr. Dorr perceives the LGBTQ issue in a distant future, which in a way, I found quite comforting despite the uncomfortable future this tale predicts. 

Yes, despite the uncomfortable and dark future predicted in this future world, key elements, like love, money, and humanity’s ability to carve out some sort of life in even the most dire circumstances carries on with a heart-broken tinge of hope and legends. 

I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes to think deep thoughts about what they read. For anyone who has an interest in politics, social issues, climate issues, anthropological studies, biomedical, and for the curious who like to imagine how the world could turn out. For me, this was more realistic an outcome than the Divergent series, Hunger Games, or Maze Runner, though definitely not for the same audience. This is a grown up’s view for grown ups of what a dystopian world could potentially provide. 

Take a peek inside today.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!